Entrepreneur’s Diary #8 – The Ethical Enterprise – An Outlook

Schöner BlickSuccess and ethics are not contradictory, even in an enterprise. During the next few days, I want to discuss and prove this theory.

It would be wrong to ask the question whether “an enterprise is ethically good”. Instead, what we have to discuss is whether or not life in an enterprise and the consequences of entrepreneurial behaviour follow “ethical rules”.

The immense dynamics prevalent in our lives and all its social systems also affects any socio-economical system called “enterprise”. Consequently, the criteria for evaluating “ethics”, too, are constantly undergoing change.

Ethics is not “black-and-white”. There is hardly ever a “right” or “wrong”. Evaluating ethical dimensions and behaviour is full of facettes. It is therefore easy to discuss dialectically whether an activity is “ethically” correct or not.

Ethical behaviour in an enterprise is difficult. Directors and managers have to make complex goal-based decisions in a very complex environment. They are often under time pressure and still supposed to balance several values against each other. Sometimes this is everything but simple.

The “ethical evaluation of entrepreneurial behaviour” also gets harder, because we live in a time of constant changes. Decisions still ethically correct yesterday might be judged wrong tomorrow or even found criminal the next day.

SchönerBlickIII, therefore, do not believe anybody could come up with a universal “sufficient condition” based on which you can always tell whether or not an enterprise has been acting ethically or not.

That is why I will describe a few “necessary requirements” for an enterprise if it wants to claim the title “ethical enterprise”. I will dedicate a separate article in my entrepreneurial diary to each of the following issues:

mission and general orientation (the meaning of an enterprise)
– what happens with profits,
– products and services completed and offered,
– employees,
– customers,
– suppliers,
– enterprise culture,
– leadership culture,
– decision culture,
– treatment of resources,
– relationship with all other stakeholders

– trivial rules.

Each of the (hopefully) short articles in this series will say: Only an enterprise that meets the standards of the respective requirement on the subject can be called “ethical enterprise”.Schöner Blick IIIThe “compliance” issue, which is currently very much the focus of attention, will only be mentioned under “trivial rules”. It is nowhere near as relevant as it is made out to be these days. Adding up all the necessary requirements of the typical, ideal concept of an “ethical enterprise” gives us one that will, regardless of its ethical qualities (or maybe because of them) be quite a success on the market.

And I am sure there is a series of further necessary and useful requirements I am going to forget to mention. I already look forward to your amendments and comments.

Now, however, I have to sit down and spend a few days writing – unless I tackle one topic every day, this vacation will not be long enough for all of them! And thanks for reading them.

(translated by EG)

The three pictures show the beautiful view we had on yesterday’s bike tour from our tent ground to Aeropli, then on to Kontronas and back to our wigwam (53 kilometres, more than 1,000 metres of altitude).

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